WINCHESTER Prison is out of 'special measures' after showing improvement in a numbers of areas.

The jail, which has been heavily criticised by inspectors, has shown it is getting on top of violence, drug abuse and low staff morale.

The news comes as the prison has been featured on the recent channel 4 series ‘Crime and Punishment’, which portrayed the prison last year at a time of low staffing and instability.

But now managers and staff provided increased confidence in several areas including staff retention, improvements to the regime and a resulting reduction in all measures of violence and self harm.

The recent outbreak of violence when inmates broke out of their cells and ran amok on a wing has not derailed the lifting of special measures.

Speaking from the pulpit of the recent Law Sunday Service to a congregation of legal professionals and volunteers at Winchester Cathedral, Rev Johnathan Aitken, former MP, prisoner and now prison chaplain, reflected on the recent TV documentary series.

He said: "Although the C4 coverage gave off a bad smell. It was not all bad news. For example, the heroes and heroines of the series, were the Winchester Prison officers."

He added: "And I assert with some confidence that HMP Winchester is becoming a recovery situation. Although it still has some way to go, this recovery has already achieved many tangible results…. Violence, self-harming, drug abuse and officer resignations are all falling. And the staff are growing in competence and confidence’.

Deputy governor Susie Richardson said: "We are delighted to have received confirmation that we are now out of special measures having been able to give the organisation sufficient confidence in the direction of travel.

"We recognise that we still have much to do in embedding the progress made to far and to continue to improve in order to become a really ‘good local prison’, and there are more challenging headlines to come, with the publication of our Summer 2019 HMIP Inspection due in mid November, which will quite rightly identify areas of improvement that are still required, but we have a loyal and committed work force, a strong leadership team, sense of direction and a plan, and we are confident that we will get this prison to where it needs to be in providing the best possible outcomes for prisoners in our custody and for the communities that these people return to."